The Loneliest Country in the World

This is not a country for the old or the young.
Opportunity and abundance: poorly made promises 

that break before they come clattering off conveyor 
belts, that rot before they can be loaded into baskets.

The young are names inside foil hearts tacked 
on a schoolroom wall, outlines on the floor 

where they crouched and bent their heads
to the linoleum heart of this country. 

Don't say apple or flag or Thanks-
giving. This country is becoming 

the loneliest country in the world. It is
the smell of floors bleached after a rain 

of blood, the blind heat of hatred
strung like lights in dance halls, 

incandescent as bullets boiled 
in a crucible of darkness. Just like 

in Stockton and Watsonville, the old 
washed the dirt of farms from their hands, 

put on their finest threads. If this was 
their only defiance, let it have been 

the moon they skated on, the pulse of a little joy 
that throbbed in their temples before the end.

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